etting Pregnant Glossary

During the course of your journey towards getting pregnant, you will likely come across a variety of "getting pregnant terms". This Getting Pregnant Glossary is designed to assist you in understanding these terms and to relieve some of the confusion and uncertainty that is common when having difficulty getting pregnant.

Basal Body Temperature

This is essentially the body's resting temperature.

By taking and recording your basal body temperature on a daily basis, you can monitor changes caused by an increase in the production of progesterone. This increase in progesterone levels signals that ovulation has taken place or that an embryo has successfully implanted, resulting in pregnancy.


Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted parasite that often produces no outward symptoms. If left undetected in women it can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which in turn can create blockages in the fallopian tubes from scar tissue. In men it can cause inflammation of the testes and the tubes surrounding them.

To test for chlamydia, physicians are likely to take cervical swabs and/or blood antibody tests. Chlamydia is treated using a strong form of antibiotics.

Corpus Luteum

This term refers to the collapsed follicle that has produced an egg in any particular cycle. It produces progesterone during the part of the menstrual cycle known as the luteal phase.


Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining the uterus is found in other parts of the body, mainly in the abdominal cavity. Lesions also occur in the ovaries, the fallopian tubes and the pelvic sidewall.

Symptoms of endometriosis include strong pelvic pain; endometriosis can cause infertility because it leads to blockage and scarring.

Fallopian Tubes

The fallopian tubes transport the egg from the ovaries to the uterus. There are two fallopian tubes in a woman’s body; both of which are lined with tiny hair-like projections called cilia, which assist the egg’s movement towards the uterus. If the cilia become infected, this can lead to damage or partial or complete blockage, preventing the egg from getting to the uterus and hindering your chances of getting pregnant. The fallopian tubes can also be damaged by endometriosis.


This procedure is used if the fimbria, the fringe of tissue located close to the ovaries that leads to the fallopian tubes and wafts the egg towards the uterus, are immobile and therefore blocking the ovum’s passage. Microsurgery can correct this blockage by reopening the affected tube or tubes.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

This hormone is generated during your period in response to a signal from the pituitary gland. FSH prompts follicles in both ovaries to begin maturing eggs. High levels of FSH in the early part of the cycle are often considered to be an indicator that egg reserves are running low, but high levels of FSH can be indicative of an overall imbalance of hormones.

On the other hand, low levels of FSH can also be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).


The hypothalamus is an area of the brain located just above the pituitary gland; it triggers the pituitary gland to release hormones important to the regularity of your menstrual cycle.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

A fertility test in which dye is injected into the uterus and fallopian tubes through the cervix. HSG is used to assess whether your fallopian tubes are blocked and that your uterus is healthy.

A similar procedure to HSG is the Hysterosalpingosonogram (HSS) that uses ultrasound to assess the uterus and fallopian tubes instead of x-rays.

Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG)

HCG is the hormone that indicates pregnancy. It is produced once the embryo is implanted. Indeed, in order for a pregnancy test to show a positive result there must be sufficient levels of hCG present the body. This generally occurs two weeks after conception, once the sperm has fertilized the egg, which occurs up to 24 hours after ovulation.

Once hCG is produced, it produces an increased supply of blood to the pelvic region, resulting in an increased desire to urinate during early pregnancy.

hCG also ensures the endometrium doesn't disintegrate so that pregnancy can be maintained.

hCG may also be used to treat fertility problems.


Laparoscopy is a fertility testing surgery in which a laparoscope (a thin probe with a telescopic end) is inserted into the pelvic region in order to provide a picture of the peritoneal cavity, the ovaries, the outside of the fallopian tubes, and the uterus.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

Around the middle of your menstrual cycle, estrogen triggers a surge of LH, which causes the strongest egg to burst through the ovary wall and move towards the uterus.

LH is the substance detected by ovulation predictors.

High levels of this hormone can be an indicator of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Luteal Phase

This term refers to the latter half of the menstrual cycle during which the corpus luteum produces progesterone to maintain the endometrial lining of the uterus, in the hopes of an egg being fertilized. When the corpus luteum stops producing progesterone, it disintegrates and your period begins.

A defective luteal phase refers to when the length of time during which progesterone is produced (between ovulation and the onset of menstruation), is insufficient to allow a fertilized egg to implant itself to the uterine wall, causing the lining to begin to disintegrate. The luteal phase is usually no longer than 10 days in length.


Ovaries are the place where your egg follicles are storied; women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. Each month, one egg follicle matures and releases an egg into the fallopian tubes.

The ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, which are central to the proper functioning of the reproductive system.

Pituitary Gland

Located at the base of the brain, the pituitary gland is responsible for the release of LH and FSH, as well as thyroid stimulating hormone. These hormones trigger different stages of your menstrual cycle and are essential to the functioning of your reproductive system.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a reproductive disorder that affects the ovaries; PCOS results in the formation of fluid-filled cysts on the ovaries. Since the ovaries are responsible for releasing the eggs into the fallopian tubes, PCOS hinders your ability to get pregnant.


Progesterone is a hormone produced by the corpus luteum. It is essential in building and maintaining the lining of the uterus into which the fertilized egg can implant and continue to grow. Progesterone levels increase after ovulation.

Insufficient levels of progesterone can result in the egg not surviving; in this case, pregnancy cannot occur. This abnormality is known as a defective or inadequate luteal phase.

Thyroid Problems

There are two main types of thyroid problems that can affect fertility:

  • Hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid): hyperthyroidism is often hereditary. Symptoms include fatigue, increased heart rate, weight loss and light or absent periods. It occurs most frequently in menopausal women. Its impacts include an increased risk of miscarriage. Treatment options include drugs, radioactive therapy and surgery
  • Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid): hypothyroidism is also usually hereditary. Its symptoms include fatigue, lack of concentration, muscle aches, constipation, weight gain, very long menstrual cycles and heavy periods. In some people the thyroid gland (which is in the throat in front of the windpipe) may be enlarged. Treatment will be lifelong and takes the form of thyroxine tablets, with a likely increased dose during pregnancy


Tuboplasty is a type of fertility surgery that corrects blockages and other irregularities such as scarring in the fallopian tubes. Blocked or scarred tubes can lead to infertility, and can be detected during a laparoscopy.

In this procedure, a balloon is inserted into the fallopian tube using a catheter. At the point of narrowing or blockage, the balloon is inflated, re-opening the fallopian tube. The balloon can then be deflated and removed.

Causes of tubal problems include endometriosis, previous surgery or an ectopic pregnancy.

Unexplained Fertility

This term is used to describe instances in which a couple tries to get pregnant for more than a year and the cause of their infertility cannot be determined.

Ten to twenty percent of couples experience unexplained infertility.

However, couples who experience unexplained infertility still have a 1 to 6 percent chance of getting pregnant each month.


The uterus is a muscular organ comprised of three layers: the peritoneum (outer layer), myometrium (middle layer) and endometrium (inner lining). An egg that has been fertilized will implant itself into the endometrium lining; the egg will then continue to develop in the uterus throughout the pregnancy.

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